Diplomatic Service operational officers work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), protecting and promoting British interests throughout the world. They work in the FCO headquarters in London and in British embassies, high commissions and consulates abroad.
You could be:
dealing with a range of issues and policies, such as counter terrorism, human rights or climate change
running an office and organising the work of other staff
dealing with correspondence and accounts
preparing documents for meetings and chairing the meetings, sometimes in front of senior officials
assisting British citizens abroad, issuing visas or arranging VIP visits
advising British businesses about the trading situation in overseas countries
informing the media – television, radio and newspapers – about British policies
amending travel advice for people travelling abroad
organising and managing ministerial and diplomatic visits.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the department in which you work
the demand for the job.
Diplomatic Fast Stream recruits would usually earn £28,000 a year. If you are based in London you would receive an additional location allowance of around £3,000. There is a good pension scheme.
With experience and promotion you could earn up to £45,000 a year.
You would be based in an office and work regular hours.
You would initially work in the FCO in London, then be posted overseas. You must be prepared to work anywhere in the world.
Working hours overseas are not fixed, so you need to be flexible.
The work may be stressful, especially if there are changes in foreign policy or after a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
Entry is currently through the Civil Service Fast Stream route – Diplomatic Service or Diplomatic Economic. See the Civil Service Fast Stream website below for details.
To get in you should have a 2:1 degree for the economic route and 2:2 degree for the Diplomatic Service route. Entry to a degree course normally requires 4-5 Highers, plus English at least to National 5.
To join the Diplomatic Service you must be a British citizen, and have lived in the UK for at least 2 of the previous 10 years. Exceptions to this rule such as having served overseas with HM Forces or worked with UK Government are listed on the FCO website.
Entry is competitive and you will have to take tests and attend an interview. In addition, you will have to go through medical and security checks.
The FCO offers internship schemes over the summer. Check the website for details.
It helps to have an aptitude for learning languages. The FCO is particularly interested in applications from those who can speak an additional language.
If you have dual nationality (including British), this will not prevent you from applying. However, you should get in touch with the recruitment office at the FCO for advice on any potential difficulties with the country of your second nationality.
Experience of living or working abroad can be helpful.